How are links between periodontal and heart disease explained?

At this point, while there is an association between gum disease (or periodontal disease) and heart disease, not all of the reasons are yet known.

The American Heart Association published a Statement in April 2012 supporting an association between gum disease and heart disease. The article noted that current scientific data do not indicate if regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease will decrease the incidence, rate or severity of the narrowing of the arteries (called atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. However, many studies show an as-yet-unexplained association between gum disease and several serious health conditions, including heart disease, even after adjusting for common risk factors.
There are several theories about the relationship between periodontal and heart disease. Here are a few:
  • Oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and attachto plaque deposits in the heart's arteries. This might lead to clots and a heart attack or stroke.
  • If oral bacteria get into the bloodstream, it might cause the liver to make certain proteins that can cause inflammation of blood vessels, possibly leading to a heart attack or stroke
  • Another theory is that periodontal disease makes existing heart conditions worse.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.